Summary: Zechariah has been dumb for almost nine months, but now he can speak and his first words are a song of praise. Everyone recognized that John was going to be an exceptional child. It is clear that Zechariah understands that his son will be the for-runner
Harmony of the Gospels
(Birth, Infancy and Future Purpose of John the Baptist
One of the most interesting prophesies concerning John the Baptist is Malachi 3:11, “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. God spoke this to the people of Israel, because they had asked, “……Where is the God of Justice?” (Malachi 2:17).
There are two messengers in this verse. The first is John the Baptist, “the one who will prepare the way” and the second is Jesus, “the messenger of the covenant.”
The prophecy concerning the first messenger is quoted in all four Gospels and it is clear that they are talking about John the Baptist. There is no doubt about that, but the “messenger of the covenant” is not mentioned any place in the four Gospels. The reason is clear, because this verse is not talking about His first coming. It is not talking about when He is coming in grace as the Redeemer but when He will come as judge. In Luke 12:14, He said, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” He came the first time to save. The next time He comes it will be as king and sovereign. I consider the Second Coming to occur after the Great Tribulation when He will begin the thousand-year rein over His kingdom. Some call the Rapture of the Church the Second Coming, but I don’t, because when He calls His church, out of the world, He will meet them in the air. He doesn’t set foot on the earth at the Rapture.
Each Gospel quotes Malachi 3:1 and I would like to look briefly at those passages. Matthew 11:9-10 says, “Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” And in Mark’s Gospel we find, “It is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.’” (Mark 1:2). Then Luke writes in Luke 7:27, “This is the one about whom it is written: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.” John recorded these words in John 1:23, “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the desert, Make straight the way for the Lord.’” Two of the quotes were from Isaiah but Malachi had the same thing to say about John the Baptist.
This was God’s answer to the people of Israel. God will send Jesus first as a Savior, but the next time He will come as “the messenger of the covenant” to execute judgment on the world. God has made it very clear that He is going to judge sin. If you will not have Him as your Savior, you will have Him as your judge. God put the judge’s robe on His Son. And in the book of Revelations, we are told about the Great White Throne Judgment where the lost will be judged; you are not going to get by with sin.
It is important to understand what covenant it is when “the messenger of the Covenant” is spoken about. This is not the New Covenant in the New Testament, but it refers to the covenant that God made with his people Israel. This covenant is found several places in scripture. One of these places is Leviticus 26:9-13, “I will look upon you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you and be your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”
This is the covenant that God made with Israel. He reaffirmed it in Deuteronomy 4:23, “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that He made with you; and do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.” Israel turned from God to idols many times and even to the occult. They never once got away with this sin, because God would turn them over to their enemies.
The verse says, “shall suddenly come to His temple”. This does not mean that He will come soon, but that when Jesus returns, it will happen suddenly.